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UNLV football commit leads No. 1 Liberty past No. 2 Gorman — PHOTOS

Whenever Liberty and Bishop Gorman’s boys basketball teams have played the last three seasons, the two school’s basketball standouts and Division I prospects always put on a show.

On Friday night, Liberty leaned on one of its veteran leaders and a future Division I athlete — but one who will be making his impact at the next level on the gridiron.

UNLV football recruit and Liberty senior forward Andre Porter scored 33 points as the Patriots, No. 1 in the Review-Journal’s Class 5A rankings, fended off No. 2 Gorman for a 72-65 win inside a packed Liberty gym.

“When you’re putting a team together, you need to have a guy that’s versatile and who can do many things. That’s what (Porter) brings to the table for us,” Liberty coach Kevin Soares said. “He can post up, he can shoot. He can bring the ball up the floor, and he can defend.”

Porter, a three-star linebacker recruit for the football team, grabbed 10 rebounds for Liberty (17-2, 8-1 5A Southern League). Sophomore point guard Tyus Thomas added 11 points and five assists for the Patriots.

“It felt like ever since the ball would leave my hand, it was going in,” Porter said. “In warmups, nothing was really going in, but I just kept confident and kept shooting the ball. As we got into the game, the ball was going in, so the basket kind of got bigger. It just felt really good, and everything was going in.”

In a slower-paced fourth quarter, Liberty pushed its lead to 60-52 with 5:35 on the clock. Gorman (19-5, 8-2) answered with an 8-0 run over the next 2:17 to tie the game at 60 with 3:18 left.

Porter snapped Liberty’s scoring drought with a layup to regain the lead at 62-60, and reserve forward Dante Stewart had a pair of key layups in the final 2:20 to help the Patriots answer after a Gorman basket.

Liberty held Gorman scoreless in the final 1:45 to seal the win.

“I just liked the grit,” Soares said. “Other guys stepped up. Andre kept us in the game, but then guys stepped up like Jase (Aquiningoc), Dante Stewart, Tyler (Bright) and Tyus — Tyus controlled the whole game. It was a total team effort.”

Porter scored 10 first-quarter points to give Liberty a 21-13 lead.

Sophomore forward Jett Washington scored nine points in the second quarter, and Gorman held Liberty to two field goals to take a 34-31 halftime lead.

Porter helped Liberty go back in front. He scored the Patriots’ first 10 points of the third quarter as they regained the lead 41-36 with 5:36 left and never gave it up.

“It was really fun,” Porter said. “I couldn’t have done it without my coaches and teammates. They helped me with defending tonight. They swung the ball and knew I had the hot hand.”

Washington led Gorman with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Guards Nick Jefferson and Ryder Elisaldez each added 11 points for the Gaels.

The Patriots have won their last three meetings against Gorman, including a 63-62 overtime win in Reno to win the 2022 5A state title and a 23-point rout in the regular season on the road, which was Gorman’s first home loss to a local team since 2017.

The win finishes off Liberty’s toughest week against league opponents. The Patriots lost at home Monday night 60-49 to No. 3 Coronado and defeated No. 5 Foothill 62-50 on Thursday.

“We held serve on our home court,” Soares said. “We put ourselves in a position where we can finish first or second (in the league). We still have some unfinished business, but we did what we needed to do tonight.”

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on X.

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